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1 February 2011, 9:00 am 17 Comments

Sports Chat: How to Forgive Michael Vick

This post was submitted by Art

Since I have moved back to Chicago, I have found a larger segment of the gay [male] populous that know sports. Fellow homos with a vested interest in professional and college teams, follow league trades, rumors, players (not just how they look) and love a good ol’ fashioned ‘Player X is better than Player Y’ argument. It would bring a tear to a glass eye. But that’s not what makes me cry these days. What brings out my inner-sports meatball is the number of sports-hating queens out there that still believe Michael Vick should be in prison. Vick has paid his debt to society and deserves forgiveness. Get over Michael Vick.

I can talk sports anywhere and frequently do. On more than one occasion, football has come up, as have the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick will be mentioned, but only about his performance on the field: his footwork, movement in the pocket, arm strength, accuracy and changes in game style from Atlanta to Philadelphia. Over the weekend, I was at one of Chicago’s finest establishments (which is to say, ‘gayest’) and I mentioned to a friend that Vick is the MVP of the NFC. I was overheard and immediately chastised for supporting, “that sick fuck” who “should still be in jail” as this particular individual “hate[s] him, because he’s a scum bag.”

I tried, so very, very hard, dear readers, to let it go. I tried to ignore the comments of the ignorant and the self-righteous and continue to enjoy the La Roux/Whitney Houston/Taylor Swift/Robyn mash-up pumping through the club speakers and my Jack/Coke drink. But I am a weak man, and my competitive ire was up. My opponent was no match for my skills. I was wearing my traditional Chicago White Sox cap (broke waaaay off the left, for the sake of ‘keeping it real), was fresh off a work out and in jeans that allowed blood to flow into and out of my legs. He was wearing a v-neck cut far too low for Chicago January, with fur Ugg boots, jeans that looked so tight they must have been painted on and a mohawk that was half gold-blond, half jet-black.

I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt and not judge him solely by appearance. After all, that would be unfair. So the numbers test was necessary.

Me: “Don’t get me wrong, what he [Vick] did was despicable, but the guy had well-over $100 million dollars taken from him. His entire life was turned upside down by an admittedly evil thing. But he’s paid his debt to society, doesn’t he deserve another chance?”

Him:“NO! He should have done to him exactly what he did to those poor dogs. What a sick fuck.”

“Wait, so having two years of your life, the prime of your life, taken from you, being forced to spend the days and nights in a federal prison aren’t enough?”

“Do you have a dog? Are you saying what he did was okay? I can’t believe any team picked him up.”

“I’m saying that what he did was enough to warrant a federal conviction, the voiding of his contract with the Falcons, the total loss of endorsements, vilification by the American people and JAIL TIME. Of course what he did was awful and stomach turning. Yes, I have a dog. Certainly NFL teams picked him up, he’s a marvelous talent who could be had on the cheap. It would have been poor management not to take a flier on him. So, you don’t believe that his work for PETA, the speeches he gives regularly to schools and youth groups are genuine? You think he should still be punished?”

“He’s a sick fuck who should still be in prison. He’s why I won’t watch the NFL.”

“But you know nothing about what he’s actually done to restore his image or his actual game? You’re still going off of old news reports? You know there are dudes in the NFL who have killed people, right? Like, legit, ‘now you’re dead, OJ-style’ killed people…And what of his work for PETA?”

“I won’t support any NFL team as long as Vick plays.”

“So, you believe what he did was beyond redemption?”

“He electrocuted and tortured dogs!”

“Right, which is why he went to prison and lost all his money. What about his work for PETA, the countless interviews he’s done on television over the past year, most specifically the one on ABC?

This continued for a while. Trying to bring actual numbers proved, ironically, fruitless. This was clearly a gentleman who knew nothing about the Xs and Os of football but wanted only to hate Vick. He isn’t the only one, I’ve had variations of this conversation before. Curious that no one ever seems to bring up Ben Roethlisberger as a counter-argument for athletes it’s okay to root for.

I admit that it isn’t easy to root for Michael Vick. I’m one of the few people who likes him more now that I did when he was with Atlanta before 2007. What he did was despicable, cruel and disgusting. But, he was found guilty in a court of law. He spent time in prison (I hear it was in the neighborhood of two years in a federal prison). He declared bankruptcy and lost his fortune. President Obama has forgiven him. There are plenty of villains and bad guys in professional sports. There are plenty of professional athletes who don’t deserve forgiveness and should be scorned and boo’d. Michael Vick is not one of those athletes. Not anymore. Don’t be like one of these reactionary queens at the bar. I’m not saying he should be your favorite player, or that you should root for the Eagles. Michael Vick has, however, paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance.

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  • KJ said:

    Sorry, I could not disagree more. No amount of money and public appearances will erase the pain and horror suffered by those poor dogs. Maybe if he was treated the same way in jail that the dogs were, I might begin to forgive him (but probably not). What he has done for PETA and other organizations might help him to restore his soul but his prior actions still do not warrant forgiveness.

  • Steve said:

    Michael Vick served 2 years in a federal penitentiary and lost millions of dollars whereas someone like Ben Rapistberger got off scott free. People want Michael Vick to pay and pay again continually whereas others get a free pass. Sorry to say but I think the public has a much greater tolerance for crime from white athletes.

  • Daniel said:

    KJ: Why isn’t two years enough? Art is right, there are NFL players who have killed human beings but haven’t faced any kind of punishment. Is the life of a dog worth more than the life of a human being? People aren’t entitled to a second chance?

  • staci said:

    Michael Vick NEVER ADMITTED TO TORTURING THOSE DOGS. He never served any time for the torture and MURDER of innocent beings. He was convicted solely on his role in running the dogfighting ring. He has never admitted to his role in actually killing these dogs. He’s not sorry for what he did, he’s sorry he got caught. He is absolutely not worthy of forgiveness.

  • Steve said:

    then why do white quarterbacks who raped real life human women get a free pass, staci? why aren’t you clamoring for Ben Rapistberger’s head? Where’s the outrage or could it just be that there are 2 different sets of rules.

  • staci said:

    Because this post is about Michael Vick. Nice job trying to sidestep the real issue here. We’re talking about Michael Vick, not any other professional athlete. Obviously I don’t think those assholes should get a free pass or that there are two separate sets of rules. How dare you insinuate that I don’t care about that. I’m merely speaking to the point. You should try it.

  • Steve said:

    The real issue is that he was convicted and served his time according to the law yet people don’t think that is enough and still want blood. It is also perfectly relevant to ask why the public has not held that same standard toward those who have committed more heinous crimes and paid no dues. This article does, in fact, ask that too. So, yes, I was speaking to the fact. Try actually reading the article next time instead of immediately bringing out the knives simply because it has to do with Michael Vick.

  • staci said:

    Again, I’d like to point out that no, Michael Vick DID NOT pay his dues. He plead not guilty to torturing those animals. He’d never been to visit them at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (the offer has been extended). He never offered to pay for their care. To me, that is absolutely not “serving his time”.

  • Steve said:

    And therein is the point: no matter what kind of sentence he served or what he admitted to, it will never be enough to satisfy some people’s blood lust and I think the reason why is pretty obvious.

  • staci said:

    You’re wrong. I would, in fact, be willing to give the man a second chance if he were to just own up to what he did, to show some remorse. But he hasn’t so I’m not. That is the point.

  • Daniel said:

    Staci, did you watch the ABC interview? Have you seen any of the clips of what he says to kids in schools? You haven’t answered any of the questions about what should happen to athletes who kill human beings. I guess a lot of gay people do feel that the life of a dog is worth more than that of a human being.

  • Steve said:

    You mean the interview where they talk about how he plead guilty to both bankrolling the dog fighting and participating in killing dogs who refused to fight? So the premise of staci’s whole argument is incorrect. You said you’d forgive Michael Vick if he owned up to it. Well he did. So where’s the forgiveness?

  • Steve said:

    …and they also talk about how he is paying for the rehabilitation of the dogs. wrong again, staci.

  • staci said:

    No, actually, you’re STILL incorrect, I’m afraid. Read below:

    “That’s what sends dog lovers out to football games with protest signs: knowing that Michael Vick tortured and killed innocent dogs. That he has never paid for that abuse or even apologized for it.

    Because the nation’s most notorious dogfighter pled “not guilty” to animal cruelty charges — charges that were eventually dropped in a plea bargain — and he was convicted only of bankrolling a dogfighting conspiracy, for which he served 18 months in prison before being welcomed back to the public spotlight.”

    Read the rest of the article here and maybe you can attempt to understand my perspective: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2009/11/03/petscol110309.DTL

    And no, Steve, I’m not wrong again about the dogs rehabilitation care. He was court-ordered to pay a set amount, yes. ORDERED, as in he paid it because he had to, not because he’s remorseful. Please check your facts. I’ve been following this case since it broke and have even met some of these dogs in person. Don’t pretend to know everything about this case just because you watched the man on 60 Minutes. You are the one who is wrong.

    Daniel, I never said I believe that dogs lives are more important than human lives. I also don’t believe the reverse to be true. And when was it asked that I provide a solution to our current criminal justice system? Again, this is about ONE CASE. I am providing facts for you on ONE CASE because this story is about Michael Vick. Nice attempt to turn it around on me, though.

  • Daniel said:

    Right, you’re the exact person this article was talking about. You’re convinced that no matter what he does, he’s always going to be a bastard who deserves himself torture. That’s a wonderfully enlightened position. Ghandi would be proud of you. The article asks questions about a culture that holds Vick to a higher standard for killing dogs than it does the same athletes for killing other human beings. This isn’t an article just about Vick, it touches on larger questions that need to be asked.

    Also: Vick’s apology is http://articles.cnn.com/2007-08-27/us/michael.vick_1_judge-henry-e-hudson-vick-supporters-aid-of-unlawful-activities?_s=PM:US



    or, most importantly,


  • Steve said:

    Here is his actual plea agreement in which he plead guilty: http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/vick-plea-deal-070824.pdf

    “Mr. Vick has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to those charges and to accept full responsibility for his actions and the mistakes he has made. Michael wishes to apologize again to everyone who has been hurt by this matter.”

    Again, no amount of punishment or restitution will ever be enough for some.

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